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Mint

Mentha

Mint plants have long been prized for crisp, soothing aroma and ease of growth. In fact, they grow so well that in some cases they get a little too rambunctious. One plant is usually plenty to supply a summer’s worth of mint. Along with their culinary and aromatic properties, mint deters insects and attracts pollinators. 

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

Under 6 inches to 8 feet

Width:

From 1 to 4 feet

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Zones:

3-10

Flavorful Mints

When people typically think of mint, the two types come to mind: peppermint and spearmint. There are several other lesser known species, all with a distinct taste. Mint plants are easily hybridized, and several hybrids occur naturally. Hybrids have delicious and beautiful flavors, smells, and intensities.

Most commonly grown for their culinary appeal, many species are attractive. In summer, clusters of small blooms top tall spikes of greenery. The flowers form in tight little spikes often in soft lavender, but also white or pink, too. There are also attractive variegated mints, which make eye-catching garnishes. Look for variegated pineapple mint with its cream-edged fuzzy leaves or ginger mint with deep green leaves and golden veins.  

Read about the health benefits of mint here.

Mint Care Must-Knows

No matter which variety you decide to grow, mint tolerates a variety of soil conditions. For the most productive plants with the most flavor, plant mint in soil rich in organic matter and provide consistent moisture. Although many varieties tolerate drought, they won't grow as well or have as good a flavor. Mint grows well in containers, which is a perfect way to have a clump right near your kitchen door for quick and easy clipping for recipes. This is also a great way to control its aggressive habit. Mint spreads quickly by underground runners known as rhizomes and can quickly take over a garden bed and out-compete nearby plants. If you want the mint in the ground, plant it in a container with the bottom removed to contain the runners.

Mint grows best in full sun as long as they are well-watered, otherwise they tolerate part shade. If you are growing mint for their flowers to attract beneficial insects to the garden, plant them in full sun.

Check out our guide to growing mint.

Harvesting Tips

The best time to harvest your mint is in the morning before heat or sun has dried the leaves. For the best flavor, pick mint before the plants bloom. After it flowers, you won't get as strong a flavor. Simply pluck off leaves as needed, or shearing the stems back, which also encourages good branching and new flushes of tender growth.

See our favorite mint julep recipes here.

More Varieties of Mint

Applemint

Mentha suaveolens has a delightful wintergreen flavor and fragrance. The fresh leaves can be used to make apple-mint jelly or a stomach-soothing tea. Like other mints, it can be invasive. Applemint grows 3 feet tall and can spread several feet wide. Zones 5-9.

'Chocolate' Mint

This variety of Mentha piperita is a fast-spreading selection with dark green leaves, purple-tinted stems, and a light chocolate-mint fragrance. It grows 3 feet tall and can spread indefinitely. Zones 4-9.

Corn Mint

Mentha haplocalyx is a traditional Chinese herbal remedy for colds and sore throats. Also known as Bo He or Chinese mint, the plant has higher menthol content than many other mints, giving it good sinus-clearing properties. It grows up to 30 inches tall. Zones 5-9.

Corsican Mint

Mentha requienii, also known as Corsican mint, is a diminutive little mint that has tiny leaves and gets no more than 4" tall. While not used as commonly for culinary purposes, it makes a fragrant groundcover. Zones 6-9.

Ginger Mint

Mentha x gracilis, often referred to as ginger mint, is a lovely mint has bright green foliage with yellow veins. It has  a gingery scent atop the common mint fragrance. Zones 5-9.

'Hillary's Sweet Lemon' Mint

Mentha dulcia citreus 'Hillary's Sweet Lemon' was developed from a cross of apple mint and lime mint, affording a fruity, citrusy aroma to the plant. It was named for former First Lady Hillary Clinton. The plant produces gray-green foliage, which grows to 18 inches tall, and, like most mints, it can spread aggressively. Zones 4-9.

'Himalayan Silver' Spearmint

This variety of Mentha spicata has silvery, elongated leaves on plants that grow 18-24 inches tall and wide. In summer, the plant produces an abundance of pinkish flowers, which dry well. Zones 4-10.

'Julep' Spearmint

Mentha spicata 'Julep' is a selection of spearmint that grows 18-24 inches tall and 14-18 inches wide. In summer, it bears ivory to white flowers. Zones 4-11.

'Kentucky Colonel' Mint

This Mentha spicata selection is a spearmint with excellent minty-green foliage, often used to flavor mint juleps and mojitos. The plant bears white, pink, or lavender blooms in summer and grows 2-3 feet tall. Zones 4-9.

Longleaf Mint

Mentha longifolia is a type of water mint native to the Mediterranean, but it also has naturalized in much of the eastern United States. It has numerous common names, including horsemint, Habek mint, brook mint, and buddleia mint. With its elongated gray foliage on a plant growing up to 4 feet tall, it resembles butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.). Zones 5-11.

'Orange' Mint

Mentha piperita f. citrata 'Orange', also called bergamot mint, develops bright green leaves lightly tinged with red. The foliage has a lovely citrus fragrance and flavor that makes it a good addition to a wide range of dishes. It grows 3 feet tall and spreads several feet wide. Zones 4-9.

'Mojito' Spearmint

Mentha spicata 'Mojito' has a flavor suitable for the Cuban drink by the same name; however, it is different from the true mojito mint, which is a hybrid between spearmint and apple mint. 'Mojito' grows 2-3 feet tall and spreads at least as wide. Zones 4-11.

Peppermint

This selection of Mentha x piperita packs the strongest mint flavor. It grows 12-30 inches tall and 18 inches wide. Zones 3-8.

Spearmint

Mentha spicata offers a mild flavor that gives the plant versatility in the kitchen. Spearmint can withstand higher soil moisture; tuck it beneath a downspout for a happy mint patch. Zones 4-9.

'The Best' Spearmint

This Mentha spicata variety is an extremely vigorous variety of spearmint. It tolerates frequent shearing to harvest its minty, wrinkled green leaves for tea or flavoring other dishes. The plant grows 24 inches tall and spreads at least 18 inches wide. Zones 4-11.

'Todd's Mitcham' Peppermint

Mentha × piperita 'Todd's Mitcham' is a variety of peppermint that is widely grown commercially for peppermint oil extraction. It has high essential oil content and is resistant to verticillium wilt. Zones 4-9.

Variegated Pineapple Mint

Mentha suaveolens 'Variegata' brightens corners of the garden with its white-edge leaves. This mint has a fruity flavor. It grows 3 feet tall and several feet wide. Zones 5-9.

Water Mint

Mentha aquatica, as its name suggests, grows in standing water up to 3 inches deep. It also can grow in moist garden soil. In summer, water mint bears lavender-purple flowers. The plant grows 2-3 feet tall and spreads unless contained. Zones 5-11.

Wild Mint

Mentha arvensis, also known as field mint or corn mint, is native throughout most of North America. It bears whorls of white, pale lavender, or pale pink flowers from mid- to late summer. You are most likely to find plants through native plant society plant sales. Like most mints, it can spread aggressively. Zones 2-10.

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